Walk-on two-sport star Jordan Faison earns football scholarship, prepares for USC
J.J. Post | Friday, October 13, 2023
There weren’t many positives for Notre Dame on the road against Louisville last weekend. In fact, there was probably only one: The emergence of walk-on freshman wide receiver Jordan Faison.
Last Saturday, Faison made a pair of catches and scored one of the Irish’s two touchdowns. His breakout performance shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. After all, he was ranked as a consensus top-50 recruit. But that was in lacrosse, not football.
Faison is a member of a dwindling class, the two-sport collegiate athlete. Originally enrolled at Notre Dame with a scholarship to play for the University’s defending national champion lacrosse program, he’ll now spend the remainder of his time in South Bend on football scholarship.
Though he joined the football team as a preferred walk-on, it was clear early on at Irish training camp they had a potential contributor in the rookie from Fort Lauderdale. Faison’s top-notch speed, which helped him develop such a strong ranking as a lacrosse recruit, stood out on the football field as well.
“He’s a baller,” said junior tight end Mitchell Evans at Tuesday’s media availability. “We knew that. There [were] times at practice in fall ball when he would shake some dudes up and just run by them and all that stuff. He’s a great player.”
For all his early flashes, Faison’s rise hasn’t been purely due to meritocracy. Notre Dame’s wide receiver room has endured a tumultuous start to the year, with an already thin position group thinning out further due to injury. Jayden Thomas, Jaden Greathouse, Matt Salerno and Deion Colzie, all of whom saw reps against Navy, have missed time.
The Irish coaching staff knew that after a narrow win against Duke (in which only three scholarship receivers saw snaps), more depth needed to be found. If Faison represented a “break glass in case of emergency” option, that emergency had come.
“Faison has deserved and earned the right for us to trust him and put him out there,” offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “No one second guessed that. Everybody knew that he would go out and perform at a high level. So he did that in a very short dosage. Now we’ve got to put him out and give him opportunities to continue that and play at a high level with more reps.”
In between turning heads in July and making his debut against Louisville, Faison cut his teeth on the scout team. Testing himself against the first-team Irish defense — and with it the likes of star cornerbacks sophomore Benjamin Morrison and graduate student Cam Hart — Faison honed his craft both on the field and in the film room.
“I would say [the] scout team definitely helped me a lot,” Faison said. “Going against the ones, we’re still running the same plays that we have on the offensive side … And then getting into the film room during game week. It’s definitely a little different to scout, but it definitely helps when we’re going over the defenses.”
What’s next for Faison remains an unknown. Notre Dame continues to inch back to full strength at wide receiver as junior Jayden Thomas and freshman Jaden Greathouse return from injury. But it’s difficult to see the Irish coaching staff closing down their newest weapon. Faison’s speed, matched by few on the Notre Dame roster, will all but certainly work its way into the game plan as the Irish look to match a high-powered USC offense.
To Faison’s credit though, he won’t be approaching this week any differently than the last. The two-sport star remains focused on simply getting better every day in his new role.
“My parents definitely taught me all the time, starting when I was young, to always keep my head down and work hard no matter what,” Faison said. “Staying humble. And now it’s just like, you’ve got to act like you’ve kinda been there before.”